5 questions with USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville

Published: Saturday, June 23 2012 8:10 p.m. MDT

USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville announces the selection of Utah as the host of the 2012 Junior World Rugby Trophy in March.

Usa Rugby

Q: How big a deal is this win (over top-seeded Tonga) for the U.S.?

A: It's huge for North American rugby. We get very few chances to play against the top u-20 teams in the world. Tonga is judged as one of those and is everyone's favorite to go back up into the top league against the big boys, and we played extremely well today and we deserved the win. I'm really pleased for the American guys, for the coaching staff and everyone involved.

Q: Where is this coming from? Is the coaching getting better? Is it players?

The players coming through are much better. We're getting better athletes through, we're also getting players started sooner, so their skill levels are higher. There was some great pace out there, some good strong boys, good athletes. We were prepared to mix it with a very physical Tongan side.

Q: Why is the tournament here, in Utah?

You can see by the crowd. You can see the passion involved the whole game. It was brought to the tournament by the local people. They've come along, supported both teams equally. They've had a great time. They got behind a lot of the Tongan players; they got behind a lot of the U.S. players. It made for a great event. And then behind that, there were three games as well, really exciting games, close games with extremely well coached teams with good athletes.

Q: How is the senior U.S. national team doing?

They had a good win last week. They played Georgia. It was great during the game (U.S.-Tonga u-20s match), I got a twitter from one of the players during the game with a picture of them all watching the (u-20s). Because they trained together last week. They were keen to make sure they supported them. Great time for rugby, and we know the people here appreciate it.

Q: The U-20s played the senior team during that training. What was that like?

A: It was like big brother playing little brother. It was all right as long as little brother didn't try to do things he should do and try to prove a point. It was great and they got along well. They got to meet their heroes. To meet their heroes, it makes it so inspirational. It makes the u-20 player realize he's within touching distance of playing for the Eagles. It was a great thing for them.

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